Esra'a Al Shafei

Human rights activist
TED Fellows Talks
Esra’a Al-Shafei builds online platforms and tools to promote free speech and social justice throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Outraged by the injustices she witnessed against minorities in her home country of Bahrain, Al-Shafei created Mideast Youth in 2006 as a platform for open discussion on a wide range of taboos and underrepresented issues. Since then, the platform has been internationally recognized and has launched a number of other initiatives, including Ahwaa, a forum for discussions about LGBTQ issues affecting Arab youth; Mideast Tunes, which showcases underground musicians in the Middle East and North Africa who use music as a tool for social change; and Migrant Rights, which documents abuses against migrant workers in the Gulf. In 2015, Esra’a was the recipient of the Free Press Unlimited award for “Most Courageous Media.”

majal.org @ealshafei

Marwa Al-Sabouni

Session 3: Building blocks
Marwa Al-Sabouni suggests that architecture played a crucial role in the slow unraveling of Syrian cities' social fabric, preparing the way for once-friendly groups to become enemies instead of neighbors.

Marwa Al-Sabouni was born in Homs, Syria, a city in the central-western part of the war-torn country. Despite the destruction of large parts of the city, she has remained in Homs with her husband and two children throughout the Syrian civil war. 

Al-Sabouni has a PhD in Islamic architecture, and is the author of The Battle for Home, a book that explores the role architecture and the built environment play in whether a community crumbles or comes together, offering insights on how her country might be rebuilt. The Battle for Home was chosen by the Guardian as one of the five best architectural books of 2016.


Chris Anderson

Head of TED
Session 1: I, human
After a long career in journalism and publishing, Chris Anderson became the curator of the TED Conference in 2002 and has developed it as a platform for identifying and disseminating ideas worth spreading.

Chris Anderson is the Curator of TED, a nonprofit devoted to sharing valuable ideas, primarily through the medium of 'TED Talks' -- short talks that are offered free online to a global audience.

Chris was born in a remote village in Pakistan in 1957. He spent his early years in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where his parents worked as medical missionaries, and he attended an American school in the Himalayas for his early education. After boarding school in Bath, England, he went on to Oxford University, graduating in 1978 with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics.

Chris then trained as a journalist, working in newspapers and radio, including two years producing a world news service in the Seychelles Islands.

Back in the UK in 1984, Chris was captivated by the personal computer revolution and became an editor at one of the UK's early computer magazines. A year later he founded Future Publishing with a $25,000 bank loan. The new company initially focused on specialist computer publications but eventually expanded into other areas such as cycling, music, video games, technology and design, doubling in size every year for seven years. In 1994, Chris moved to the United States where he built Imagine Media, publisher of Business 2.0 magazine and creator of the popular video game users website IGN. Chris eventually merged Imagine and Future, taking the combined entity public in London in 1999, under the Future name. At its peak, it published 150 magazines and websites and employed 2,000 people.

This success allowed Chris to create a private nonprofit organization, the Sapling Foundation, with the hope of finding new ways to tackle tough global issues through media, technology, entrepreneurship and, most of all, ideas. In 2001, the foundation acquired the TED Conference, then an annual meeting of luminaries in the fields of Technology, Entertainment and Design held in Monterey, California, and Chris left Future to work full time on TED.

He expanded the conference's remit to cover all topics, including science, business and key global issues, while adding a Fellows program, which now has some 300 alumni, and the TED Prize, which grants its recipients "one wish to change the world." The TED stage has become a place for thinkers and doers from all fields to share their ideas and their work, capturing imaginations, sparking conversation and encouraging discovery along the way.

In 2006, TED experimented with posting some of its talks on the Internet. Their viral success encouraged Chris to begin positioning the organization as a global media initiative devoted to 'ideas worth spreading,' part of a new era of information dissemination using the power of online video. In June 2015, the organization posted its 2,000th talk online. The talks are free to view, and they have been translated into more than 100 languages with the help of volunteers from around the world. Viewership has grown to approximately one billion views per year.

Continuing a strategy of 'radical openness,' in 2009 Chris introduced the TEDx initiative, allowing free licenses to local organizers who wished to organize their own TED-like events. More than 8,000 such events have been held, generating an archive of 60,000 TEDx talks. And three years later, the TED-Ed program was launched, offering free educational videos and tools to students and teachers.

TED.com @TEDChris

Monica Araya

Electrification enthusiast
Session 5: Organizing principles
Monica Araya works with leaders in government, business, philanthropy and activism to accelerate the shift toward emissions-free transportation.

Monica Araya works toward a world without tailpipes. She is a ClimateWorks distinguished fellow, a Drive Electric campaign advisor and a special adviser to the UN High-Level Champion for Climate Action for COP26. She has guided mobility, climate and energy strategies across Latin America, the US and Europe, championing voices from the global south and ensuring that transportation systems create meaningful improvements in people's lives.

Working with global and local networks and coalitions to move to a net-zero economy has been a constant feature of Araya's work. She has co-created several initiatives, such as Costa Rica Limpia and the EV Association of Costa Rica, and serves as senior advisor to programs including the 2050 Pathways Platform, Chile's Center for Climate and Resilience Research CR2 and the Chilean Advisory Council on e-mobility. She hosts the podcast Ponerse Las Pilas to engage the Spanish-speaking public in the zero-emission transformation. In 2019, Araya was named "Crusader of the Year" for her role in advancing electric mobility in Costa Rica, her home country. She was recognised as one of the BBC's "100 Women" in 2021.

Drive Electric Twitter: @MonicaArayaTica

Julia Bacha

Session 3: Building blocks
Julia Bacha is the creative director at Just Vision, an organization that uses film and multimedia storytelling to foster constructive conversations on some of the most divisive issues of our times.

Bacha started her filmmaking career writing and editing Control Room (2004), a documentary about the inner workings of the Arab satellite television channel Al Jazeera. She then wrote and co-directed Encounter Point (2006) and directed Budrus (2009), both stories of courageous bridge-building between Palestinians and Israelis in a highly volatile environment. Her most recent film, My Neighborhood (2012), follows a Palestinian teenager struggling to reclaim his home in East Jerusalem from Jewish settlers. She is now directing a film about the Palestinian women who secretly led the First Intifada, for which she was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship.

justvision.org @juliabacha

Alexander Betts

Social scientist
Session 4: Pathways
Alexander Betts explores ways societies might empower refugees rather than pushing them to the margins.

In media and in public debate, refugees are routinely portrayed as a burden. Professor Alexander Betts argues that refugees, who represent a wide spectrum of professional backgrounds, are in fact an untapped resource that could benefit nations willing to welcome them into their economies. 

Betts is the director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, where he spearheads research on refugee and other forced migrant populations. His book, Survival Migration, explores the predicaments of people who are fleeing disaster yet fall outside legal definitions of refugee status.

alexanderbetts.com TEDxVienna Talk

Laila Biali

Session 3: Building blocks
Canadian singer-songwriter and pianist Laila Biali takes the best of pop, rock, classical and soul, filters it through her jazz virtuosity, and weaves it into musical arrangements and original songs with a unique signature.

An exciting talent, Biali has toured with Chris Botti, Paula Cole and Suzanne Vega, recorded with Sting, and performed across the world, from Peru’s El Festival Internacional de Lima to Carnegie Hall in New York City. She was named “Composer of the Year” and “Keyboardist of the Year” at Canada’s National Jazz Awards. Her first album of entirely original music, House of Many Rooms, was released in 2015, and she’s now finishing work on her new record. Biali has also been invited to join the faculty for the Stanford Jazz Workshop at Stanford University, where she has spent several summers teaching and performing.

lailabiali.com @lailabiali

Rachel Botsman

Trust researcher
Session 4: Pathways
Rachel Botsman is a recognized expert on how collaboration and trust enabled by digital technologies will change the way we live, work, bank and consume.

Rachel Botsman is an author and a visiting academic at the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School. Her work focuses on how technology is enabling trust in ways that are changing the way we live, work, bank and consume. She defined the theory of "collaborative consumption" in her first book, What's Mine Is Yours, which she co-authored with Roo Rogers. The concept was subsequently named by TIME as one of the "10 Ideas that Will Change the World" and by Thinkers50 as the 2015 Breakthrough Idea.

Named a "Young Global Leader" by the World Economic Forum, Botsman examines the growth and challenges of start-ups such as Airbnb, TaskRabbit and Uber. She is regular writer and commentator in leading international publications including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, The Economist, WIRED and more. She is currently writing a new book that explores why the real disruption happening isn’t technology; it’s a profound shift in trust.

rachelbotsman.com @RachelBotsman

Laura Boushnak

TED Fellows Talks
Laura Boushnak is a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian photographer whose work focuses on women, literacy and education reform in the Arab world.

Boushnak's documentary project I Read I Write explores the barriers women face accessing education and the role of literacy in improving the lives of women in Egypt, Yemen, Kuwait, Jordan, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. For the project, Boushnak encouraged women to write their thoughts on prints of their portraits, engaging them directly in the artistic process. Boushnak’s images have been widely published, and her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. She is a co-founder of Rawiya, a collective that brings together the work and experience of female photographers from the Middle East.

lauraboushnak.com @lauraboushnak

Ed Boyden

Session 1: I, human
Ed Boyden is a professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute.

Ed Boyden leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for analyzing and repairing complex biological systems such as the brain. His group applies these tools in a systematic way in order to reveal ground truth scientific understandings of biological systems, which in turn reveal radical new approaches for curing diseases and repairing disabilities. These technologies include expansion microscopy, which enables complex biological systems to be imaged with nanoscale precision, and optogenetic tools, which enable the activation and silencing of neural activity with light (TED Talk: A light switch for neurons). Boyden also co-directs the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, which aims to develop new tools to accelerate neuroscience progress.

Amongst other recognitions, Boyden has received the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016), the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015), the Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences (2015), the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award (2013), the Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize (2013) and the NIH Director's Pioneer Award (2013). He was also named to the World Economic Forum Young Scientist list (2013) and the Technology Review World's "Top 35 Innovators under Age 35" list (2006). His group has hosted hundreds of visitors to learn how to use new biotechnologies and spun out several companies to bring inventions out of his lab and into the world. Boyden received his Ph.D. in neurosciences from Stanford University as a Hertz Fellow, where he discovered that the molecular mechanisms used to store a memory are determined by the content to be learned. Before that, he received three degrees in electrical engineering, computer science and physics from MIT. He has contributed to over 300 peer-reviewed papers, current or pending patents and articles, and he has given over 300 invited talks on his group's work.


Jennifer Brea

TED Fellows Talks
Jennifer Brea was a PhD student at Harvard when, one night, she found she couldn't write her own name.

Over the following months, while doctors insisted her condition was psychosomatic, Brea became bedridden. She started filming herself and the community that she discovered online, collecting the first footage of what would become a feature documentary about myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), often referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome. The film, Unrest, which will premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, tells Jen's story as well as the stories of four other patients living with ME.

Brea is also the founder of #MEAction, an online organizing platform for ME patients around the world, many of whom cannot leave their homes.

jenbrea.com @jenbrea

Daniela Candillari

TED Fellows Talks
TED Fellows Talks
Slovenian conductor, pianist and composer Daniela Candillari is the founder and artistic director of New York-based Chamber Orchestra Gravity Shift.

During the 2015-16 season, Candillari is conducting the world premiere of Stefania de Kenessey’s opera Bonfire of the Vanities at Museo del Barrio in New York City. She is also conducting three new operas: Beowulf by Hannah Lash for New Works Opera Showcase, The Wild Beast of the Bungalow by Rachel Peters for Center for Contemporary Opera and Unfinished by Joshua Groffman for Vital Opera.

danielacandillari.com @dancandill

Community discussion

Session 6: Experiences
During the first part of this session, a community discussion will weave together some of the conversations shared during the week. It will be led by TED Curator Chris Anderson and TEDSummit Curator Bruno Giussani.

Hasan Elahi

Privacy artist
Session 6: Experiences
In 2002, American artist Hasan Elahi’s name was added (by mistake) to the US government’s watch list.

That led to an intensive investigation by the FBI. After months of interrogations, Elahi was finally cleared of suspicions but advised to keep the FBI informed of his whereabouts. Which he did -- fully, by opening up just about every aspect of his life to the public. What started with a practicality grew into an open-ended art project, with Elahi posting photos of his minute-by-minute life online (hotel rooms, airports, meals, receipts, bathrooms), tracking himself on Google Maps, releasing communication records, banking transactions and transportation logs, and more. The project questions the consequences of living under constant surveillance, and it has been presented at Centre Pompidou in Paris and at the Venice Biennale, among others. He is an associate professor of Art at University of Maryland, roughly equidistant from the CIA, FBI and NSA headquarters.

elahi.umd.edu @hasanmelahi

Juan Enriquez

Author, academic, futurist
Session 1: I, human
Juan Enriquez thinks and writes about the profound changes that genomics and brain research will bring about in business, technology, politics and society.

A broad thinker, Juan Enriquez bridges disciplines to build a coherent look ahead. He is the managing director of Excel Venture Management, a life sciences VC firm. He cofounded the company that made the world's first synthetic life form and seed funded a company that may allow portable brain reading.

Enriquez's book, RIGHT/WRONG: How Technology Transforms Our Ethics, shows why we should be a little less harsh in judging our peers and ancestors and more careful in being dead certain that what we do today will be regarded as ethical tomorrow. In 2015, he published Evolving Ourselves: How Unnatural Selection and Nonrandom Mutation Are Shaping Life on Earth with Steve Gullans. The book describes a world where humans increasingly shape their environment, themselves and other species.

excelvm.com @EvolvingJuan

Helen Fisher

Anthropologist, expert on love
Session 2: Things we think we know
Anthropologist Helen Fisher studies gender differences and the evolution of human emotions. She’s best known as an expert on romantic love.

Fisher's several books lay bare the mysteries of our most treasured emotion: its evolution, its biochemical foundations and its vital importance to human society. Fisher describes love as a universal human drive (stronger than the sex drive; stronger than thirst or hunger; stronger perhaps than the will to live), and her many areas of inquiry shed light on timeless human mysteries like why we choose one partner over another. Her classic study, Anatomy of Love, first published in 1992, has just been re-issued in a fully updated edition, including her recent neuroimaging research on lust, romantic love and attachment as well as discussions of sexting, hooking up, friends with benefits, other contemporary trends in courtship and marriage, and a dramatic current trend she calls “slow love.”

helenfisher.com @DrHelenFisher

Anand Giridharadas

Session 5: Organizing principles
Anand Giridharadas writes about people and cultures caught amid the great forces of our time.

Anand Giridharadas is a writer. He is a New York Times columnist, writing the biweekly "Letter from America." He is the author, most recently, of The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas, about a Muslim immigrant’s campaign to spare from Death Row the white supremacist who tried to kill him. In 2011 he published India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation's Remaking, about returning to the India his parents left.

Giridharadas's datelines include ItalyIndiaChinaDubaiNorway, Japan, HaitiBrazilColombiaNigeriaUruguay and the United States. He is an on-air contributor for NBC News and appears regularly on "Morning Joe." He has given talks on the main stage of TED and at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Yale, Princeton, the University of Michigan, the Aspen Institute, Summit at Sea, the Sydney Opera House, the United Nations, the Asia Society, PopTech and Google. He is a Henry Crown fellow  of the Aspen Institute. 

Giridharadas lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Priya Parker, and their son, Orion.

anand.ly @AnandWrites

Sam Harris

Neuroscientist, philosopher
Session 5: Organizing principles
Sam Harris's work focuses on how our growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live.

Sam Harris is the author of five New York Times bestsellers. His books include The End of FaithLetter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Lying, Waking Up and Islam and the Future of Tolerance (with Maajid Nawaz). The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. Harris's writing and public lectures cover a wide range of topics -- neuroscience, moral philosophy, religion, spirituality, violence, human reasoning -- but generally focus on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live.

Harris's work has been published in more than 20 languages and has been discussed in the New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and many other journals. He has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Times (London), the Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Annals of Neurology and elsewhere. Harris also regularly hosts a popular podcast.

Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.

samharris.org @SamHarrisOrg

Lesley Hazleton

Writer, psychologist
Session 1: I, human
Writer, psychologist and former Middle East reporter Lesley Hazleton explores the vast and often terrifying arena in which politics and religion intersect.

Lesley Hazleton has traced the roots of conflict in several books, including compelling 'flesh-and-blood' biographies of Muhammad and Mary, and casts "an agnostic eye on politics, religion, and existence" on her blog, AccidentalTheologist.com.

Her newest book, Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto, celebrates the agnostic stance as "rising above the flat two-dimensional line of belief/unbelief, creating new possibilities for how we think about being in the world." In it, she explores what we mean by the search for meaning, invokes the humbling perspective of infinity and reconsiders what we talk about when we talk about soul.

Hazleton's approach has been praised as "vital and mischievous" by the New York Times, and as "a positive orientation to life, one that embraces both science and mystery ... while remaining intimately grounded and engaged."

accidentaltheologist.com @accidentaltheo

Erik Hersman

TED Fellows Talks
Erik Hersman harnesses Africa’s boundless spirit of innovation by creating platforms to improve daily lives both inside and outside the continent.

Hersman is the CEO of BRCK, a rugged, self-powered, mobile Wi-Fi device that connects people and things to the Internet in areas of the world with poor infrastructure. He leads a number of web and mobile projects through organizations including iHub, a Nairobi community center that’s an epicenter for Kenya’s booming tech industry. The mobile app Ushahidi, which he co-developed, allows users to share breaking news through text messaging and continues to revolutionize and empower journalists, watchdog groups and everyday people around the world.

whiteafrican.com @WhiteAfrican

Ryan Holladay

Session 2: Things we think we know
Brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay explore the intersection of art and technology with an emphasis on music and sound, with projects ranging from multichannel audio installations to interactive performances to mobile apps.

The Holladay brothers have done pioneering work in location-aware music composition: music created and mapped to a physical space, released as mobile apps, that use a mobile device’s GPS to dynamically alter the music as the listener traverses a landscape. Their first production, “The National Mall,” a location-aware piece mapped to the Mall in Washington, DC, was described by music critic Chris Richards “magical...like using GPS to navigate a dream.” They went on to create similar works for Central Park in New York and for SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas, and are engaged in a long-term project of sonically mapping the entirety of the Pacific Coast Highway. Ryan is a 2013 TED Fellow.

hrholladay.com @rholladay

Hays Holladay

Session 2: Things we think we know
Hays and Ryan Holladay create innovative sonic experiences that blur the lines between art and technology. Their work celebrates the act of discovery, reimagining how we interact with and experience sound.

Pico Iyer

Session 6: Experiences
Novelist and nonfiction author Pico Iyer writes on subjects ranging from the Cuban Revolution to Islamic mysticism, from Graham Greene to forgotten nations and the 21st-century global order.

Pico Iyer's books have been translated into more than 20 languages. Both his 2008 meditation on the XIVth Dalai Lama, The Open Road, and his TED Book, The Art of Stillness, were best sellers across the US. Outside magazine called him "arguably the greatest living travel-writer," and the New Yorker said, "As a guide to far-flung places, he can hardly be surpassed." Between 2012 and 2016, Iyer delivered three talks for TED, and they have received more than eight million views so far.

Since 2013, Iyer has delivered four talks for TED, including the closing talk for the first-ever TEDSummit, in 2016, and the opening talk for the second TEDSummit, in 2019.

An essayist for TIME since 1986, Iyer is a constant contributor the New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Harper's, Granta and more than 200 other newspapers and magazines worldwide, and he has published introductions to 70 other works.

picoiyerjourneys.com @PicoIyer

Ellen Jorgensen

Biologist, community science advocate
Session 2: Things we think we know
Ellen Jorgensen is at the leading edge of the do-it-yourself biotechnology movement, bringing scientific exploration and understanding to the public.

In 2009, after many years of working as a molecular biologist in the biotech industry, together with TED Fellow Oliver Medvedik, Jorgensen founded Genspace, a nonprofit community laboratory dedicated to promoting citizen science and access to biotechnology. Despite criticism that bioresearch should be left to the experts, the Brooklyn-based lab continues to thrive, providing educational outreach, cultural events and a platform for science innovation at the grassroots level. At the lab, amateur and professional scientists conduct award-winning research on projects as diverse as identifying microbes that live in Earth's atmosphere and (Jorgensen's own pet project) DNA-barcoding plants, to distinguish between species that look alike but may not be closely related evolutionarily. Fast Company magazine named Genspace one of the world's "Top 10 innovative companies in education."

genspace.org @FeyScientist

Just A Band

Session 6: Experiences

Kevin Kelly

Editor, author
Session 4: Pathways
Kevin Kelly packages ideas -- both other people's and his own.

Three things excite Kevin Kelly. First, introducing everyone to great little-known tools via his curatorship of Whole Earth Review, Cool Tools and Recomendo. Second, promoting planetary views, including his photojournalism work in recording Vanishing Asia and his co-chairing of the Long Now Foundation. Third, embracing optimism in his publications, The Inevitable and Wired magazine. As a raging optimist he believes that the only way to steer technology is to use it.

kk.org Twitter: @kevin2kelly

Joe Lassiter

Energy scholar
Session 3: Building blocks
Joe Lassiter focuses on one of the world’s most pressing problems: developing clean, secure and carbon-neutral supplies of reliable, low-cost energy all around the world.

As the Senator John Heinz Professor of Management Practice in Environmental Management, Retired and current Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School, Joe Lassiter studies how high-potential ventures attacking the energy problem are being financed and how their innovations are being brought to market in different parts of the world. In the MBA and executive education programs, he teaches about the lessons learned from these ventures as well as potential improvements in business practices, regulation and government policy. Lassiter also supports University-wide efforts as a faculty fellow of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program and a faculty associate of the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

Following a 20-year career leading technology businesses, Lassiter joined HBS in 1996. He has taught courses in entrepreneurial finance, entrepreneurial marketing and innovation in business, energy & environment. For Harvard University, he taught courses in innovation & entrepreneurship to undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows across the University and its affiliated hospitals. From its founding in 2010 until 2015, Lassuter was Faculty Chair of the University-wide Harvard Innovation Lab (Harvard i-lab).

Lassiter received his BS, MS, and PhD from MIT and was awarded National Science, Adams and McDermott Fellowships. He was elected to Sigma Xi.


Tim Leberecht

Business romantic
Session 3: Building blocks
A humanist in Silicon Valley, Tim Leberecht argues that in a time of artificial intelligence, big data and the quantification of everything, we are losing sight of the importance of the emotional and social aspects of our work.
In his book The Business Romantic: Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself, Tim Leberecht invites us to rediscover romance, beauty and serendipity by designing products, experiences, and organizations that "make us fall back in love with our work and our life." The book inspired the creation of the Business Romantic Society, a global collective of artists, developers, designers and researchers who share the mission of bringing beauty to business. Now running strategy consulting firm Leberecht & Partners, he was previously the chief marketing officer at NBBJ, a global design and architecture firm, and at Frog Design. He also co-founded the "15 Toasts" dinner series that creates safe spaces for people to have conversations on difficult topics.
timleberecht.com @timleberecht

Isaac Lidsky

Author, entrepreneur
Session 1: I, human
Isaac Lidsky has a very eclectic resume.

Lidsky runs a big construction services company based in Florida, has co-founded an Internet startup and a nonprofit and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). He graduated in math and computer science from Harvard and then added a law degree magna cum laude from the same university, clerked for US Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and argued a dozen cases in federal court on behalf of the US Justice Department, not losing any. Earlier, he was a child television star in both commercials and series.

Lidsky's rich biography disguises a secret, which can be summarized in the title of his forthcoming book Eyes Wide Open: Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities In A World That Can’t See Clearly.

lidsky.com @isaaclidsky

Rebecca MacKinnon

Internet freedom activist
Session 4: Pathways
Rebecca MacKinnon looks at issues of free expression, governance and democracy (or lack of) in the digital networks, platforms and services on which we are all more and more dependent.

Rebecca MacKinnon is the director of the Ranking Digital Rights project at New America, which recently released its inaugural Corporate Accountability Index, ranking 16 Internet and telecommunications companies on their commitments, policies and practices affecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy. (An expanded Index will be released in 2017.) She is the author of Consent of the Networked, a book investigating the future of liberty in the Internet age, and has been engaging in the debate about how to fight global terrorism while keeping a free and open Internet. A former head of CNN's Beijing and Tokyo bureaus, MacKinnon is an expert on Chinese Internet censorship and is one of the founders (with Ethan Zuckerman) of the Global Voices Online blog network.

rankingdigitalrights.org @rmack

Emma Marris

Environmental writer
Session 2: Things we think we know
Emma Marris is a writer focusing on environmental science, policy and culture, with an approach that she paints as being "more interested in finding and describing solutions than delineating problems, and more interested in joy than despair."

Emma Marris has written among others for National Geographic, The Atlantic and the New York Times. She challenges the notion that nature can only be preserved in its pristine, pre-human state, a too-narrow characterization "that thwarts bold new plans to save the environment and prevents us from having a fuller relationship with nature." Humans have changed the landscape they inhabit since prehistory, and climate change means even the remotest places now bear the fingerprints of humanity. Our influence on the planet means we have new responsibilities for its plants and animals. In her books Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in the Post-Wild World and Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Nonhuman World, she argues for creating or reviving good relationships with other species, rather than trying to withdraw from nature in shame.

emmamarris.com @Emma_Marris

Abigail Marsh

Session 1: I, human
Abigail Marsh asks essential questions: If humans are evil, why do we sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to help others even at a cost to ourselves?

How do we understand what others think and feel? An associate professor in the department of psychology and the interdisciplinary neuroscience program at Georgetown University, Abigail Marsh focuses on social and affective neuroscience. She addresses questions using multiple approaches that include functional and structural brain imaging in adolescents and adults from both typical and non-typical populations, as well as behavioral, cognitive, genetic and pharmacological techniques. Among her ongoing research projects are brain imaging and behavioral studies of altruistic kidney donors and brain imaging studies of children/adolescents with severe conduct problems and limited empathy.

Marsh's 2017 book The Fear Factor: How One Emotion Connects Altruists, Psychopaths, and Everyone In-Between explores the extremes of human generosity and cruelty. In 2018, The Fear Factor was awarded the Book Prize for The Promotion of Social and Personality Science from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

abigailmarsh.com @aa_marsh

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Economist, international development expert
Session 2: Things we think we know
A respected global economist, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's parents instilled in her the value of service to others.

In 2021, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala became the first African and first woman appointed director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO). From 2003 to 2006, she was the Finance Minister of Nigeria, Africa's largest economy, and then became the country's Foreign Affairs Minister, the first woman to hold either position. From 2011 to 2015, she was again named Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy of Nigeria. She worked to free her country from 30 billion dollars of debt owed to the Paris Club, modernized the financial management systems by introducing transparency and publishing government accounts and used technology to help block leakage of revenues and fight corruption.

Between 2007 to 2011, Okonjo-Iweala was one of the managing directors at the World Bank and a candidate for the organization's presidency, where she worked for change in Africa and assistance for low-income countries. She was also senior advisor at financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard, and she chaired the Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. She is now World Health Organization COVID-19 envoy to the ACT Accelerator and African Union envoy on COVID-19. She is proud and thankful for her biggest accomplishments: her four beautiful children, who, she says, are now adults and good human beings giving service to others.

ngoziokonjoiweala.com @NOIweala

Sarah Parcak

Satellite archaeologist + TED Prize winner
Session 2: Things we think we know
Like a modern-day Indiana Jones, Sarah Parcak uses satellite images to locate lost ancient sites. The winner of the 2016 TED Prize, her wish is to protect the world’s shared cultural heritage.

There may be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of undiscovered ancient sites across the globe. Sarah Parcak wants to locate them. As a space archaeologist, she analyzes high-resolution imagery collected by satellites in order to identify subtle changes to the Earth’s surface that might signal man-made features hidden from view. A TED Senior Fellow and a National Geographic Explorer, Parcak wrote the textbook on satellite archaeology and founded the Laboratory for Global Observation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her goal: to make the world's invisible history visible once again.

In Egypt, Parcak's techniques have helped locate 17 potential pyramids, and more than 3,100 potential forgotten settlements. She's also made discoveries in the Viking world (as seen in the PBS Nova special, Vikings Unearthed) and across the Roman Empire (as shown in the BBC documentary, Rome’s Lost Empire). Her methods also offer a new way to understand how ancient sites are being affected by looting and urban development. By satellite-mapping Egypt and comparing sites over time, Parcak has noted a 1,000 percent increase in looting since 2009. It’s likely that millions of dollars worth of artifacts are stolen each year. Parcak hopes that, through her work, unknown sites can be protected to preserve our rich, vibrant history.

As the winner of the 2016 TED Prize, Parcak asked the world to help in this important work. By building a citizen science platform for archaeology, GlobalXplorer.org, Parcak invites anyone with an internet connection to help find the next potential looting pit or unknown tomb. GlobalXplorer launched on January 30, 2017, with volunteers working together to map Peru. Other countries will follow, as the platform democratizes discovery and makes satellite-mapping rapid and cost-effective. 


sarahparcak.com @indyfromspace

Esther Perel

Therapist, speaker, consultant
Session 2: Things we think we know
Through her podcasts "Where Should We Begin?" and "How's Work?," psychotherapist Esther Perel is changing the conversation on the way we communicate, connect and conflict in our relationships -- at home and at work.

New York Times bestselling author Esther Perel is recognized as one of today's most insightful and original voices on modern relationships. As a psychotherapist, she has helmed a therapy practice in New York City for more than 35 years, and she serves as an organizational consultant for Fortune 500 companies around the world. Fluent in nine languages, Perel's celebrated TED Talks have garnered more than 30 million views and her bestselling books have been translated into nearly 30 languages. She is an executive producer and host of the award-winning podcast Where Should We Begin? Her newest podcast, How's Work?, focuses on workplace dynamics.

estherperel.com @EstherPerel

Shai Reshef

Education entrepreneur
Session 5: Organizing principles
Shai Reshef wants to democratize higher education.

Reshef is the president of University of the People, an online school that offers tuition-free academic degrees in computer science, business administration and health studies (and MBA) to students across the globe. The university is partnered with Yale Law School for research and NYU and University of California Berkeley to accept top students. It's accredited in the U.S. and has admitted thousands of students from more than 180 countries. Wired magazine has included Reshef in its list of "50 People Changing the World" while Foreign Policy named him a "Top Global Thinker." Now Reshef wants to contribute to addressing the refugee crisis. "Education is a major factor in solving this global challenge," he says. UoPeople is taking at least 500 Syrian refugees as students with full scholarship. Before founding UoPeople, Reshef chaired KIT eLearning, the first online university in Europe.

uopeople.org @uopeople

Gerard Ryle

Investigative journalist
Session 6: Experiences
As director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Gerard Ryle is one of the key figures behind the Panama Papers.

Gerard Ryle is the director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington, DC.

When journalists at the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Germany got hold of the documents from a whistleblower, their volume and complexity pushed them to turn to the ICIJ, which brought together 376 investigative journalists from more than 100 news organizations in 76 countries.

The reporters spent months collaborating in researching and checking the documents, using protected communication channels, bespoke search engines and other specialized tools built by ICIJ, and ICIJ coordinated the release of the information across the world. It was the biggest cross-border collaboration in journalism history. The Panama Papers resulted in resignations or political outcries in Britain, Iceland, Spain, Malta and Pakistan and triggered dozens of official inquires around the world.  

Before joining as the ICIJ's first non-American director in September 2011, Ryle spent more than 25 years working as an investigative reporter, author and editor in Australia and in Ireland. He has more than 60 journalism awards from six countries, including honors from the George Polk Awards, Harvard University and the University of Liege. Reporters Without Borders has described his work with ICIJ as "the future of investigative journalism worldwide." 

(Photo: Le Monde / Melissa Golden)

icij.org @RyleGerard

eL Seed

TED Fellows Talks
French-Tunisian artist eL Seed blends the historic art of Arabic calligraphy with graffti to portray messages of beauty, poetry and peace across all continents.

Born in Paris to Tunisian parents, eL Seed travels the world, making art in Paris, New York, Jeddah, Melbourne, Gabes, Doha and beyond. His goal: to create dialogue and promote tolerance as well as change global perceptions of what Arabic means. In 2012, for instance, he painted a message of unity on a 47-meter-high minaret on the Jara mosque in Gabes, Tunisia. This piece and others can be found in his book, Lost Walls: Graffiti Road Trip through Tunisia

Most recently he created a sprawling mural in the Manshiyat Naser neighborhood of Cairo that spans 50 buildings and can only be viewed from a local mountaintop. Intending to honor the historic garbage collectors of the Manshiyat Naser neighborhood, the piece reads, "Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first."

elseed-art.com @elseedart

"Blinky" Bill Sellanga

Musician, DJ
Session 6: Experiences

"Blinky" Bill Sellanga is a producer, DJ and the frontman of the musical collective Just A Band, which mixes genres like hip hop, electronica and funk to make music for popular radio and to give voice to Kenyan youth.

Twitter: @heyheyblinky Instagram: @heyheyblinkybill

Michael Shellenberger

Climate policy expert
Session 3: Building blocks
Michael Shellenberger is a global thinker on energy, technology and the environment.

Michael Shellenberger is co-founder and Senior Fellow at the Breakthrough Institute, where he was president from 2003 to 2015, and a co-author of the Ecomodernist Manifesto.

Over the last decade, Shellenberger and his colleagues have constructed a new paradigm that views prosperity, cheap energy and nuclear power as the keys to environmental progress. A book he co-wrote (with Ted Nordhaus) in 2007, Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility, was called by Wired magazine "the best thing to happen to environmentalism since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring," while Time magazine called him a "hero of the environment." In the 1990s, he helped protect the last significant groves of old-growth redwoods still in private hands and bring about labor improvements to Nike factories in Asia.

environmentalprogress.org @ShellenbergerMD

Suzanne Simard

Forest ecologist
Session 4: Pathways
Suzanne Simard studies the complex, symbiotic networks in our forests.

A professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia's Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences in Vancouver, Suzanne Simard studies the surprising and delicate complexity in nature. Her main focus is on the below-ground fungal networks that connect trees and facilitate underground inter-tree communication and interaction. Her team's analysis revealed that the fungi networks move water, carbon and nutrients such as nitrogen between and among trees as well as across species. The research has demonstrated that these complex, symbiotic networks in our forests -- at the hub of which stand what she calls the "mother trees" -- mimic our own neural and social networks. This groundbreaking work on symbiotic plant communication has far-reaching implications in both the forestry and agricultural industries, in particular concerning sustainable stewardship of forests and the plant’s resistance to pathogens. She works primarily in forests, but also grasslands, wetlands, tundra and alpine ecosystems.


Christopher Soghoian

Privacy researcher and activist
Session 4: Pathways
Christopher Soghoian researches and exposes the high-tech surveillance tools that governments use to spy on their own citizens, and he is a champion of digital privacy rights.

TED Fellow Christopher Soghoian is a champion of digital privacy rights, with a focus on the role that third-party service providers play in enabling governments to monitor citizens. As the principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, he explores the intersection of federal surveillance and citizen's rights.

Before joining the ACLU, he was the first-ever technologist for the Federal Trade Commision's Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, where he worked on investigations of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Netflix. Soghoian is also the creator of Do Not Track, an anti-tracking device that all major web browsers now use, and his work has been cited in court.

dubfire.net @csoghoian

Pavan Sukhdev

Environmental economist
Session 5: Organizing principles
A banker by training, Pavan Sukhdev runs the numbers on greening up -- showing that green economies are an effective engine for creating jobs and creating wealth.

In 2008, Sukhdev took a sabbatical from Deutsche Bank, where he'd worked for fifteen years, to write up two massive and convincing reports on the green economy. For UNEP, his “Green Economy Report” synthesized years of research to show, with real numbers, that environmentally sound development is not a bar to growth but rather a new engine for growing wealth and creating employment in the face of persistent poverty. The groundbreaking TEEB (formally “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity”) report counts the global economic benefits of biodiversity. It encourages countries to develop and publish “Natural capital accounts” tracking the value of plants, animal, water and other “natural wealth” alongside traditional financial measures in the hope of changing how decisions are made. In his book, Corporation 2020, he envisions tomorrow’s corporations as agents of an inclusive, green economy. He is now the CEO of Gist Advisory, a sustainability consulting firm.

corp2020.net @PavanSukhdev

Don Tapscott

Digital strategist
Session 3: Building blocks
Don Tapscott, Executive Chairman of the Blockchain Research Institute, is one of the world’s leading authorities on the impact of technology in business and society. He has authored 16 books, including "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything," which has been translated into over 25 languages

A leading analyst of innovation and the impacts of technology, Don Tapscott has authored or co-authored 15 widely read books about various aspects of the reshaping of our society and economy. His work Wikinomics counts among the most influential business books of the last decade. His new book The Blockchain Revolution, co-authored with his son, Alex, discusses the blockchain, the distributed-database technology that's being deployed well beyond its original application as the public ledger behind Bitcoin. In the book, they analyze why blockchain technology will fundamentally change the internet -- how it works, how to use it and its promises and perils.

Tapscott is an adjunct professor of management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, a Senior Advisor at the World Economic Forum and an Associate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

dontapscott.com @DTapscott

Marco Tempest

Cyber illusionist
Session 4: Pathways
Using technology and an array of special effects, Marco Tempest develops immersive environments that allow viewers to viscerally experience the magic of technology.

Marco Tempest began his performing career as a stage magician and manipulator, winning awards and establishing an international reputation as a master illusionist. His interest in computer-generated imagery led him to incorporate video and digital technology in his work -- and eventually to develop a new form of contemporary illusion. 

Tempest is the executive director of the NYC Magic Lab, a science consortium exploring illusion and digital technology. He is deeply embedded in the tech industry and has regular interactions with product teams in an advisory capacity and as a consultant or developer for prototype consumer technologies. He is a Director's Fellow at the MIT Media Lab and a creative consultant at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

marcotempest.com @virtualmagician

Jonathan Tepperman

Global affairs thinker
Session 5: Organizing principles
Jonathan Tepperman writes on the world's most pervasive and seemingly intractable challenges.

Jonathan Tepperman is the managing editor of Foreign Affairs, the bimonthly journal published by the Council on Foreign Relations.

Tepperman started his career in international affairs as a speechwriter at the UN in Geneva, and he has written for publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic and Newsweek. He has interviewed numerous world leaders including Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto, Indonesia's Joko Widodo and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.

Tepperman's new book The Fix: How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline explores ten of the world's more pervasive and seemingly intractable challenges (such as economic stagnation, political gridlock, corruption and terrorism) and shows that, contrary to general consensus, each has a solution, one that has already been implemented somewhere in the world.

jonathantepperman.com @j_tepperman

Josh Tetrick

Food innovator
Session 2: Things we think we know
Josh Tetrick seeks to create a "just" food system where sustainable, healthy and delicious food is accessible to everyone.

Josh Tetrick asks: What would it look like if we started over in food? He is the founder and CEO of Hampton Creek, an American food innovation company with a mission to create a "just" food system where sustainable, healthy and delicious food is accessible to everyone. Tetrick’s team of chefs, engineers, molecular biologists, data scientists, and food scientists works with farmers around to world to identify plant species that have never been exploited for their food value and hold the promise of making our food better. Hampton Creek is best known for its first product, Just Mayo, an egg-free mayonnaise launched in 2013. Its formula took almost two years to create, with a specific variety of the Canadian yellow field pea replacing the eggs. In 2015 Tetrick and his company were the target of a concerted campaign by the US egg industry lobby, which considered them a “major threat.”

hamptoncreek.com @joshtetrick

Zeynep Tufekci

Session 5: Organizing principles
Techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci asks big questions about our societies and our lives, as both algorithms and digital connectivity spread.

We've entered an era of digital connectivity and machine intelligence. Complex algorithms are increasingly used to make consequential decisions about us. Many of these decisions are subjective and have no right answer: who should be hired, fired or promoted; what news should be shown to whom; which of your friends do you see updates from; which convict should be paroled. With increasing use of machine learning in these systems, we often don't even understand how exactly they are making these decisions. Zeynep Tufekci studies what this historic transition means for culture, markets, politics and personal life.

Tufekci is a contributing opinion writer at the New York Times, an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a faculty associate at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

Her book, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, was published in 2017 by Yale University Press. Her next book, from Penguin Random House, will be about algorithms that watch, judge and nudge us.

technosociology.org medium.com/@zeynep

James Veitch

Comedian, writer
Session 5: Organizing principles
Session 1: I, human
For James Veitch, spam emails proved the perfect opening to have some fun, playing the scammers at their own game.

James Veitch's correspondence with email spammers leads to surprising, bizarre and usually hilarious results. Out of this experiment came his book, Dot Con. In 2014, his first solo comedy show, The Fundamental Interconnectedness of Everyone with an Internet Connection, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe. His second show, Genius Bar, focused on his time working for Apple, chronicled his attempts to fix his relationship using the same troubleshooting techniques he'd been using to fix iMacs, iPhones and iPods.

veitch.me @veitchtweets

Bettina Warburg

Blockchain entrepreneur and researcher
Session 3: Building blocks
Bettina Warburg is a blockchain researcher, entrepreneur and educator. A political scientist by training, she has a deep passion for the intersection of politics and technology.

A graduate of both Georgetown and Oxford, Bettina Warburg started her career as a political scientist and public foresight researcher at a prominent Silicon Valley think tank. Today, she has taken her skills as a researcher and scientist and is applying them toward an entrepreneurial career by co-founding a venture studio business called Animal Ventures. There, she spends most of her time incubating new startup ideas, advising Fortune 500 clients, governments and universities in developing minimum viable products, and strategizing around blockchain, artificial intelligence, industrial internet of things and digital platforms.

Warburg is the executive producer of a Silicon Valley tech show called Tech on Politics, interviewing some of the world's most influential political operatives, entrepreneurs, government official, and the creators of some of the most exciting digital products on the market.

Warburg recently launched a new Blockchain education course called "The Basics of Blockchain." The hope is that this course will help spread the body of blockchain knowledge, inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs and get more people ready for the coming revolution.

techonpolitics.com @bwarburg

Ione Wells

Writer, activist
Session 6: Experiences
University student Ione Wells is the founder of the international #NotGuilty campaign against sexual violence and misdirected victim blaming.

Ione Wells is a student at the University of Oxford in the UK, where she just started her third year reading for a degree in English Language and Literature, and a keen writer and journalist.

After being the victim of an assault in London in early 2015, she published a letter to her assaulter in a student newspaper, which went viral, attracting enormous attention and prompting the sharing of countless experiences by others around the world on social media.

That reaction prompted her to set up the international #NotGuilty campaign against sexual violence and misdirected victim-blaming, which has a website providing a platform for people to speak out. Since then, she has written about these issues for multiple publications, commented on radio and television, spoken at several festivals, hosted support groups and workshops for survivors of assault, and led workshops in schools.

She is the former editor of Oxford University’s student magazine, The Isis, and has an active interest in human rights, international relations, theatre, and wild swimming.

notguiltycampaign.co.uk @ionewells